Choosing the Best Green Home Builder

Today many people are “going green”, which means that they are becoming environmentally friendly in how they live their lives and minimizing the harm done to the earth. When some people decide to build their home from the bottom up, they decide to have a green home builder build their home. This contractor would build their home with low environmental and energy efficiency in mind. To find a green home builder you should talk to the contractors in your area. Some that will travel to your area to build your home but their services will add more expense to the cost of your home.

To ensure that you will have the best green home builder ask them what type of building material they will use. You should also inquire about their disposal methods to make sure they are in compliant with sustainability practices. The materials that they should use are non-toxic when possible, and environmentally friendly. They should also be materials that come from renewable sources, or sustainable material. This can include materials from homes that have been knocked down. This material can include old doors, cabinets, some of the wood to accent the home such as using the material for ceiling beams, and more. They should try to avoid using plastics and choose their wood carefully. You should ask to see examples of the green projects they have completed. Their construction philosophy should focus on green building. It should not just focus on using green techniques as a secondary technique. Make sure that the contract you sign states that it will be constructed from sustainable and green material.

A home builder may tell you that they are using green building techniques but it could be easy for them to start using less environmentally friendly techniques and designs to save money on materials so they can put more money in their pockets. This is why you need to be sure that they are a reputable home builder and have good references as a green construction company. They need to be knowledgeable about green techniques and processes and committed to green construction and design. If you want your new green custom built home to be built using unconventional techniques make sure the home builder can demonstrate they understand the techniques you want and can do them correctly.

Before you choose a green home builder, you should educate yourself on what constitutes a green home and the process to build one. This will help you to determine a good green home builder and to know if they are cutting corners using non-environmentally friendly material. Having a green home can save you money on heating and cooling costs, and if sustainable material is used it can save these materials from being disposed of improperly.

Owning a Classic Craftsman Home in Northeast Los Angeles

NELA home architectural styles vary widely: Modern, Art Deco, Victorian, Tudors, and others. But perhaps the Craftsman residences get the most attention.

Craftsman homes are among the most sought after real estate in Northeast Los Angeles neighborhoods. One of the many reasons why homes for sale in Pasadena, Eagle Rock, Hermon and elsewhere have become hot commodities is a renewed interest in so-called “character homes”. But Craftsman homes come in significant variations, sizes, and conditions – opening up opportunities for homebuyers in a range of prices.

The high value – i.e., prices ranging from $400,000 on past $2 million – being placed on Craftsman homes in NELA is an interesting turn of historical events. These solid structures were originally designed for the advent of middle class home ownership in the late 19th and early 20th century. Gone were the features of Victorian homes that included butler’s quarters and kitchens only used by household staff. Instead, the family prepared their own meals while some features of kitchens blended with dining rooms – which are why there are those built-in, glass-front cabinets for dishware that was previously stowed out of sight from formal dining rooms.

The characteristics of Craftsman homes range from low-pitched roofs to deep eaves, exposed rafters (usually with distinctive decorative knee braces), dormers, one- to one-and-a-half stories, large fireplaces (often flanked by built-in cabinetry), and double-hung windows. Outside, Craftsman bungalows had large porches that welcomed newcomers to the California lifestyle, which offered a longer outdoor season for people arriving from the Northeast and Midwest.

Note that Bungalow and Craftsman style homes are often – but not always- the same thing; Bungalows always have that front porch (“veranda” if you prefer), while Craftsman sometimes do not. (If looking at homes for sale in Glassell Park, Garvanza or Mt. Washington, you might nerd out with your realtor by looking for the distinction.)

A further distinction might be made between Craftsman homes designed by certain architects (Greene & Greene built the trend-setting larger versions, which drew from Spanish mission and Japanese aesthetics), while Craftsman-style homes had a lower cost and were more modest in proportions and features. Craftsman-style homes may have shipped by train in a kit (e.g., “Sears homes”) or been a much-replicated design used by 1920s developers who knew a popular style when they saw one.

What made Craftsmans so popular when first built is what makes them equally popular today. These solid buildings have a relaxed style, one that accommodates an easy flow between rooms and activities. Mothers and fathers making meals in the kitchen can take a break to help children with their homework while keeping an eye on something cooking on the stove. Throw a party on the veranda but some guests might easily drift inside to admire the Arts & Crafts detailing of the cabinetry, fireplace surround, or wainscoting. They are healthy, unpretentious and sturdy: anything standing today has withstood a century of seismic activity, testimony to the sturdy craftsmanship of these Craftsman homes.

FINANCIAL DEFENSE The True Path to Wealth

“Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” This was said sarcastically by Thomas J Stanley in his famous book, The Millionaire Next Door. I have not read or listened to this book in more than eight years, but I still remember this phrase. That one, and the millionaire saying, “I drink two types or beer. Budweiser and Free.”

The message in his book is that you need to watch your spending with more tenacity than to increase your income. Obviously, it is a combination of income and spending that creates wealth, but controlled spending is far more important. As long as you spend less than your income, you will be moving forward, and consistent progress will make you rich! The problem I often see is that people spend what they make, or worse, spend more than they make. In either of these scenarios, you are at best staying even, but most likely going backwards. Many want to be investors and entrepreneurs, drink the get rich Kool-Aid and focus all their energy on increasing income. That is what sells coaching programs, mentor-ships and advertising on TV shows. With energy and focus comes success, so many of these entrepreneurs and investors see results. And with the positive results of higher earnings comes… higher spending!

I am fortunate enough to live in a great neighborhood. Most people in the neighborhood are high income earners, but several of them live above their means. It is not uncommon for me to see neighbors move out of the area because they can no longer afford to stay. They are the same ones with the new cars and the extravagant parties. It is a look at me attitude and peers feed on the pressure to keep up. This creates a little spiral of friends living outside their means. But hey, at least they are all moving backwards together.

The ones that live below their means feel pressure to spend or get left behind. And on the surface, many of them do. One challenge about living below your means is it takes years before you realize the benefit. During those years it seems as though you are missing out. I see it so clearly and understand the pressure, but I also see a high percentage of our aging population that should be retired, working their asses off. They are stressed and busy and churning to get by.

If you have not yet, you owe it to yourself to read The Millionaire Next Door. This book really sank in for me on the power of financial defense. Of limiting spending and protecting your earnings. I am able to live in my neighborhood, provide for my family, enjoy my time away from the office, and many other benefits because of the control I had with spending as my income was increasing. As you invest earnings for income, instead of spending it, you will witness exponential growth of income.

If I recall correctly, the quote from the book “Congratulations! You play fantastic offense” was referring to a broke high earner. He made more than his peers but would miss a mortgage payment if his income stopped. That is not a comfortable life, yet he was proud of it. If I could help one piece of financial advice sink in, it would be to focus on defense before offense.

Travis and I both recently read the book, Set for Life, by Scott Trench. This is another fantastic book focusing on the correct way to build wealth and retire early. It is a simple formula. Spend less than you make and invest the difference.

Improving Seller Calls

It was a fall Sunday morning before a Denver Bronco game. I was playing fantasy football and desperately wanted to watch the pregame shows to make the best decisions for my fantasy team. There were bragging rights on the line after all, but instead of going to the remote, I went for my phone.

I had a small office in the basement of the house I was living in located in Thornton, a northern suburb to Denver. It was basically a hallway outside of the laundry room and my roommate was busy washing her clothes. I had to stand at my desk in order to let her pass each time she needed to check on things. There were several other places I would have rather been and other things I wanted to be doing. I did not want to be in that hallway with a phone to my ear while laundry was blasting away, but I had a goal to reach. I needed to make 30 calls before the Broncos kickoff.

This was my routine every weekend and most week nights. I had a great phone script, but it was the tweaking to that script, making it mine, and the practice on the phone that helped me become successful. I purchased more than 50 houses by calling sellers directly, and over the years I learned what makes an investor successful on the phone. Here are three keys in cold calling sellers that will make you successful.

Have a script. Routine breeds success. This is nothing new, but it is worth mentioning. The most successful people in the world, in any area, have a routine for what they do best. This could be a professional golfer, a builder, a waiter or waitress, or a school teacher. In business, if you find something that works and you do it over and over, you will become rich. It is really that simple. A script is your routine, it helps you work your way through a call and should be used every time you make a seller call.

Make the script your own. Although a script is extremely important, it can also hurt you. If you follow a script that you are not comfortable with and read it word for word, you will sound nervous and rigid. This will make the motivated seller uncomfortable and make them want to end the call. It is best to find a script that you can change a little to fit your personality. It is also important to know that you need to be prepared to veer from the script and go with the call. Enjoy the conversation. That is why I like real short scripts with plenty of flexibility.

Don’t sell on the phone. When I was just starting, the script I was using had me make a creative offer on the phone. If the seller was open to the offer, I would set the meeting and negotiate the numbers. It took hundreds of calls to get an appointment with a seller, because I was over qualifying them by selling on the phone. Maybe someday your time will be way too valuable to meet with sellers that you might not do business with, but for most of us, getting the appointment with a qualified lead is the most important result. The way you do this is to qualify their motivation and then schedule a time to view the house; the goal is not to get a deal on the phone. If they ask for an offer you can simply say you need to see the house before you can discuss it and that they should invite you over. The qualifying question in my script is, “Sounds like a great house. Why would you even consider selling?” The answer to this question will give me enough information to schedule a meeting or not.

Focus on “no” oriented questions and never trap your lead. Many sales books teach “yes” oriented questions. Hearing the word no is scary, and as a sales person we are taught to get our prospect saying yes. This is done by asking questions that the only answer is yes. For example, you might say “Most people are looking for the best price for their home, do you agree?” Of course they are going to agree with that. Doing this can create some unease and make them uncomfortable with you. People want to feel like they have options and giving them the option to say no can be powerful. A question like “Do you disagree?” will be much more powerful than “Do you agree?”

Another strategy often taught in sales that makes people uncomfortable is giving them limited options. I think this can be extremely useful and is a great strategy, but you need to be careful. I had a solicitor call me the other day asking for a donation. His questions were, “Would you like to donate the normal $50 or would $25 be easier?” This is a great close when you have rapport with someone, so it could be very effective in a meeting, but it made me hang up the phone. I don’t know you!

Five Keys to Real Estate Flipping Success

Make your fortune in real estate. It is not that hard once you get the hang of it. Real estate flipping can be an extremely high paying career, but I see way too many people give up on it. The turnover in this industry is exceptionally high. I noticed the high turnover early on and have watched to learn why some people kill it while others disappear. This has been important to monitor to help myself and my clients last in this amazing business.

I have been in the real estate field for the last 16 years and my hard money lending company finances around 150 deals a year. Here is what that experience has taught me about being a successful fix and flipper.

Mindset: This is where it all starts. For the last 3 years, I have felt myself fall into a little lull and have realized that this occurred because of my mindset. Your mindset could be a lot of things, but the basic concept is that what you believe will happen… does. Sometimes just convincing your mind that you will hit a goal takes work. Not to mention the work that it takes to actually hit that goal.

Focusing your mind on positivity is a great start, but you really need to believe you deserve the success you desire. Meditation and affirmations are fantastic ways to accomplish this.

Hustle: Nothing is going to be given to you. When I was going through my struggles to hit some financial goals, I had to keep reminding myself of this. Times can get hard and things can feel unfair, but the reality is, no matter how much you don’t want to believe it, you are the only one responsible for your success. I would tell myself this over and over. “If I want it, I need to earn it” I had to get up in the morning. I had to deal with the problem on my plate. I had to stay up late or work on the weekend. I had to put in the work to get the results. Because I decided to be successful, I decided to work hard.

Network: As we have learned. It is not what you know, it is who you know. I constantly try to team up with people smarter than me, that can both help me learn and help me get results. This has resulted in millions in profits. I also feel very lucky to have a network that can solve just about any problem I run into. If I am rehabbing a house and run into a problem, I have a list of people I can call for help. If they don’t know how to help they will know someone who does. I lean on my attorneys, my CPA, partners, wholesalers, and other professionals on a regular basis.

Education: To make my top five list you know I believe this is important in your success. Constant improvement is essential and the exciting thing about this, especially early in your career, is that growth is exponential. As you learn and implement ideas into your business, your business grows at a faster and faster pace. Obviously, for this to work you will need to learn AND implement. Many people learn all about investing and never invest. That comes down to the investor mindset. That’s why, I believe, you need all five of these essential keys to be a great fix and flipper. The good thing is this is possible for everyone, including you.

Access to Money: So, this one might be self-servicing because I am a lender, and this could fall within the Network category but let’s face it, if you don’t have money you don’t do deals. Money can come from many sources including cash you have in the bank, money you borrower from institutions, partners, private and hard money loans. Many times, you will need a combination of these sources to get a deal done or to maximize profits. This can all be learned as part of your education or you can choose to work with a professional that can advise you on the best way to navigate this complicated subject.

The Perfect Disaster

Why trying to be perfect is a great way to fail – and how to avoid it.

The best is the enemy of success! What I mean by this is so many of us are so focused on the best that we take very little action towards our success. We are focused on the best place to eat, the best time to work out, the best way to lose weight, or the best way to make some extra money. We are focused so much on the best that we think too much about what we should or could be doing.

Focusing on a process toward success will prevent failure and accelerate your results. Take Travis in our office for example. He loves the gym and wants to get bigger and stronger. He can focus on the perfect diet, the best supplements, the best workouts, and the best technique. Or, he can eat healthy and get under the bar. The reps give him experience and strength. The results provide the momentum, and he finds himself spending more time in the gym and focusing more on diet and supplements. Now he has trouble fitting into his shirts. It all started with reps.

Dating is another good example. Typically, we need to kiss a few frogs to find our prince or princess. It does not come easy, but as we work through it, we start to learn what a good match looks like. We should start to get more confidence and our decisions become faster and better. Eventually, we hope, we find someone we are compatible with and live happily ever after.

Business or investing is no different. Obviously, we want to strive for quality, but quality will come with some thought-out quantity. Takes sales for example. If we just pick up the phone and start making calls, we will get better and better on the phone and will start closing more deals. The practice on the phone will produce better results than spending time finding the best phone script or the best people to call. With investing, we start taking steps to our goals. Maybe that is interviewing agents or sending out mail to motivated sellers. As we see results, we can adjust and improve. The fact that we are taking action, organically gets us closer to perfection.

So how do we avoid the perfection trap?

Goals are so incredibly powerful. A goal should be a tremendous help, but it can also hurt you. For new investors I love the idea of setting action-oriented goals. What I mean by this is to not focus on results, at least to start, and only focus on the small actions that should lead to results. As you hit your goals, you gain confidence and momentum. Let me give you an example. If you want to make $30,000 a month, you might start with how many deals you need to do to hit that goal. If you are a fix and flipper, it might be one deal. Then focus on how many offers you need to make to get one deal. Because we are in a tough market, we know that it might be 60 or more. Obviously, this is a bit of a guess until you can track it, but let’s start with 60 for this example. A great goal to help get you started would be to make 60 offers this month based on your buying criteria. The criteria being deals that should net $30,000. Focus on the fact that the goal is the number of offers, not the number of deals or the amount of money you want to make. That way, even if you don’t get a deal, you can, and should, celebrate the fact that you accomplished your goal. If you consistently hit action-oriented goals, you will see tremendous results.

I recently read a story about a college art professor that split his class in half at the beginning of the year to do a study on actions and results. One group was the quality group and one was the quantity group. The quantity group would be graded on the number of photographs turned in by the student. The quality group, as you can probably guess, was graded on only one photo for its quality. Guess which group turned in the best photos? The quantity group had more high-quality photos turned in because they were out practicing their skills trying to hit a quantity goal. Because they were not trying to take the one perfect photo, they ended up taking more action and better photos.

Disney in another great example. In the 80s the company had 3 CEOs and was not profitable. Then CEO, Michael Eisner, changed the way the company thought about the movie business. Instead of producing perfect movies, they went for quantity. In the late 80s and through the 90s they more than doubled the number of movies they were producing. They spent less time, money and energy on any one movie. The result? Blockbuster smash hits like; Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and Lion King.

Green Homes for Sale

If you were looking at real estate ads and saw one that stated “green homes for sale”, you may at first wonder why anyone would a listing stating the color of their home. This is not what this type of ad means. It is just stating that the homes for sale are earth friendly and energy efficient. Green homes for sale are being built in an effort to less the carbon footprints we leave behind.

When you purchase a green home they will contains all or some of the following features that are earth friendly.

• Fiber cement siding
• Alternative power system like wind and solar
• Recycled building insulation
• No VOC stains and paints, which stands for volatile organic compound. It is any compound that is carbon-based and will vaporize at standard room temperatures. Some of the more prevalent ones are formaldehyde, acetone, and methane.
• Solar powered hot water heating

Even if you do not live in a green home, there are things that you can do to increase your energy conservation. It will even help contribute to saving our environment. Making your home a green home can help to reduce global warning and save the homeowner money. It will significantly better the environment and require little effort for the homeowner.

Making a green home

• Instead of using the standard incandescent light bulbs start to use compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). When you switch to the CFL’s you can save per year over a hundred dollars. You can find these lights in the same aisle as your regular bulbs but they are little more expensive. In the United States, if every house switches the type of light bulbs they were using to CFL’s there would be a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of one trillion pounds.
• Install a thermostat that is programmable-with this type of thermostat the homeowner can program the thermostat so that the air conditioner or heater is off when homeowners are not at home. The programmable thermostat can be programmed so that it will cool or heat your home shortly before the homeowner arrives home. This change could save the homeowner ten percent or more on cooling and heating costs
• Plug air leaks-this will help the homeowner save money and practice conservation. You can do this by installing weather stripping, keep the temperature in your home from rapidly fluctuating, and caulk windows correctly to stop air drafts.
• Energy Star® rated appliances-these reduce the amount of electricity that is needed to operate them so they have less of an impact on the environment. They will also save on your energy bill.

Financial Considerations Of Home Ownership

While we often, refer to, home ownership, as a core component, of the American Dream, it’s important, for us, to take a realistic look, at the obligations, and necessities, involved, if this is, to truly be a dream, instead of a potential nightmare! Before embarking on this house – hunting, process, carefully, introspectively, objectively, examine and consider, your personal reasons, persona, what makes you happy/ satisfied, and whether, it’s a good course, for you. After, you’ve determined, what’s best, for you, and know, what you want, it’s essential to clearly consider, and examine, what you might be able to afford. This means, proceeding, in a responsible, well – planned, and considered manner, focused, on preparing for the many contingencies, of home ownership. With that in mind, this article will attempt to briefly consider, review, and discuss, a few steps, which should, both reduce unnecessary stress and hassle, and maximize the potential enjoyment!

1. Reasons for buying that house: Why do you want to buy, any specific house? Does it meet your present needs, and into the future? Or, are you looking, at a shorter – term, and want to live, there, for a shorter – span, and, then, relocate, when needed and necessary? Are you the type of person, who enjoys moving, or would you rather, remain in your present quarters? What are your needs, goals, and priorities, in terms of location, neighborhood, schools, costs, transportation, conveniences, etc? Why, this house?

2. Down – payment: Do you have the necessary funds, to have the down – payment, while avoiding, placing too much stress, on yourself, because of using these funds? Smart homeowners prepare, and make their journey, far less stressful!

3. Needed reserves: The best way, to proceed, is to put together, several reserve funds, in order to ease your way, forward! Once, you’ve purchased your house, most people face monthly fixed expenses, which includes mortgage payments (including principal, taxes, and escrow items, such as insurance, etc), utilities (electric, heat, telephone, television, internet, etc). Realize, owning a house, requires preparation, for affording the costs of regular repairs, including appliances, heating, water, etc. Create a reserve fund, for this specific area. Also, realize, houses require attention, and certain items, have useful lives, and will need replacing, such as roofs (rated from 20 – 40 years), appliances (including washer, dryer, refrigerator, oven/ stove, dishwasher, etc), painting or power – washing, etc. At some point, many realize, their house needs certain upgrades, renovations, etc. The better prepared, the easier this process!

Consider Resale Value Before You Renovate

When doing renovations, people rarely think about long-term resale value. Most families just want a really nice place to live and they work to create their forever home. However, life can be unpredictable. So while it is joyful to make a dream home, those dreams need to be balanced with an understanding of whether or not those granite countertops or that second story are good investments in the long run.

What is resale value?

We hear the idea of resale value quite often pertaining to real estate. The ideal is to buy a property that is a good investment and to have its value appreciate. Good maintenance and appropriate renovations help ensure that when it comes time to sell again, the property has gained equity and you’ll make money.

However, the amount of money you’ll make depends on market appreciation. Which is why it’s important to make improvements that fit the property and the neighborhood.

Location the key factor to consider

If you’ve bought a property by a highway or another not-so-great location, you probably got it for a good price. If that location’s value doesn’t increase during the time you own it, you’ll probably have to sell it for a similarly good price, even if you’ve done a lot of work on it.

Many property owners invest in renovations that aren’t in keeping with the neighbourhood. As a result, they end up selling for less than they invested, which can be heartbreaking.

Before you renovate, look at what has been selling around you – at what cost for what quality? If the most expensive home in your neighborhood sold for $400,000 after being completely renovated, it doesn’t make sense to style your house to a value any higher.

And really, how special are those $10-per-square-foot tiles anyway? Go with the $5 tiles instead.

Focus your investment to one or two elements per room. Make pricey items such as granite countertops, a fancy backsplash, or a higher end faucet; work like show pieces, similar to a piece of art.

Smallest may be best when it comes to resale
As for adding a second story to create more space for an expanding family, it may be worth it in the long run to hunt for a bigger home.

If you invest an extra $100,000 on a two-bedroom bungalow in a neighborhood full of two-bedroom bungalows, you may never recover that full investment. It may be a much better idea to take your equity and find a larger home in a neighborhood where your investment will hold and even grow in time.

When it comes to resale value, it’s always better to have the smallest house in an area with mansions rather than a $600K house surrounded by $300K houses.

Of course, creating a joyful home should always be the first priority. Just make wise decisions that will bring you prosperity and happiness for years to come.

Tips for Getting New Clients As a Realtor

Admit it or not, finding clients on the vast real estate market is very challenging. It is challenged by the existence of big real estate firms which employ hundreds of experienced real estate agents on their teams. If you are a newbie, you could easily be swallowed by the efforts exerted by the established firms. But have you ever think that they also started out as rookies in the field? If you are in this situation, here are some tips to at least give you a leverage on finding the right clients for you.

Create your own circle of offline connections and influences. As much as the online world is essential to widen your connections, the offline connections and influences is equally essential. Start with your family and friends. Then add your past classmates even those from your elementary days whom you still remember. Your teachers can be great additions. Move on to those whom you are tapping services as professionals such as your doctors, dentists, hair stylists, pet groomers and fitness coaches. The parents of your children’s classmates and friends can also expand your offline connections. If you have business contacts, add them as well. Don’t forget your neighbors. They can be great sources of referrals.

Build a better online network of friends. Through social media, you, as a real estate agent is bestowed greater power to enhance online connections. Your network can be a greater web of interconnected persons starting with your family members down to their own friends, acquaintances, friend of friends, and so on. Before you notice it, your network has expanded to include professionals of diverse titles not only in your locality but also in adjacent towns and nearby cities. If you think they are not relevant, you may be wrong with the impression. Anyone in your online network of friends can always be a great source of referral even those who you seldom see to be adding activities in their social media accounts.

Send mailers, both online and offline. Now that you have established both your online and offline connections, it is time to introduce yourself as the rookie real estate agent. For offline mailers, be sure to have a formal tone. Give your full name, license number, the firm you are connected too, its address, and contact numbers of you and the firm. Inform them of the services you are offering.

For online mailers, the same can be followed. But since it is an electronic form, you may want to add some enhanced graphics and video.

Create your own website. For personal branding, having an own website is an essential. This is where you can provide listings, value added services, frequently asked questions, and even informational articles that can help spark the interest of your potential clients. Support it with a blog, and connect it with your social media accounts in different real estate online platforms.